By Lonnie Wilkey
NEWPORT — At the age of 78, Horace Brown still has a burning passion for ministry.
Brown was recognized by family and friends on Sunday, Oct. 20, at the offices of East Tennessee Baptist Association where he has served as director of missions for the past 10 years.
He celebrated 60 years of ministry and he has no plans to stop anytime soon. “I will retire only when the Lord tells me to,” he affirmed.
A native of Monroe County, Brown surrendered to the call to preach in 1959 at New Macedonia Baptist Church in Sweetwater. He became the pastor of Wando Baptist Church in Wando, S.C. in 1963 and served for three years before returning to his native state of Tennessee.
Brown served as a bivocational pastor for many of his years in the pastorate. He retired as a school teacher after 33 years of teaching in the Monroe and Blount County school systems.
While he loved the churches he served as pastor (11 as full-time or bivocational and others as interim), the last 10 years as a director of missions have given Brown fulfillment. Noting that he never “regretted a pastorate I’ve had,” Brown acknowledged, however that “the last 10 years have been the most joyful years of my ministry.”
When Brown was approached about becoming the director of missions, he noted some pastors had become dissatisfied with the association and were thinking about leaving the fellowship of churches. Instead, Brown said, the pastors remained and took an active role. One of those who considered leaving later became a moderator of the association, he added.
“It was nothing I did,” Brown stressed. “It was all the work of the Lord.”
Reflecting on his ministry, Brown said the churches he served as pastor and a stint as minister of education (Forest Hill Baptist Church, Maryville) and director of the Chilhowee Baptist Center in Maryville also helped prepare him to be a DOM.
He also affirmed that his experience as a bivocational pastor also prepared him to serve as a director of missions, especially in East Tennessee Association. Of the 38 churches in the association, Brown observed that about 30 of them are served by bivocational pastors.
With his background, Brown said he can understand how a pastor feels “when they are worn out and still have to make hospital visits and prepare their sermons. I try to encourage them and be their Barnabas,” he affirmed.
“Have I seen everything I’ve wanted to see?” he asked of his ministry as a DOM. “No, but we have seen growth with the addition of two churches.”
Brown’s own ministry has not been without trials. He fought the call for several years before surrendering and then early in his ministry, his first wife, Wanda, was killed in an automobile accident, leaving him with two daughters. “I thought it over when she died,” he admitted, but recalled that the Lord wouldn’t let him quit.
Brown later married his second wife, Pat, in 1984 and they had a son and daughter. “Pat came into my life and has been a vital part of my ministry,” he noted. Pat was a member of one of Brown’s pastorates at Morganton Baptist Church in Greenback.
His 60 years of ministry have been a “joy,” Brown affirmed.
“I wouldn’t trade places with anyone in the world,” he added. B&R